All safe after plane ditches in Lake Erie

Aug. 14, 2010 at 12:16 PM
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SANDUSKY, Ohio, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Ohio authorities are crediting the pilot of a small plane with a skillful ditching in Lake Erie that ended with all four aboard safe and relatively sound.

Mark Neal, 61, Westland, Mich., and his three passengers suffered some bumps and bruises in the forced landing, which was about 30 feet from a ferry loaded with passengers docked at South Bass Island near Sandusky, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The OHP told the Detroit Free Press that the outcome could have been worse had Neal not handled the situation as well as he did.

Neal had to put the plane down in the lake Friday when the engine of his Cessna 210 conked out as it headed for an airfield on the island. He retracted the landing gear and the plane skipped a couple of times on the water before the nose settled in and it began to sink.

One of the passengers had to crawl out of the rear luggage door seconds before the plane went under, the Free Press said. Passengers and crew from the ferry tossed life rings and fished the lucky four from the water.

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